Traffic cameras at two Route 1 intersections appear to have reduced accidents, and transportation officials say fewer drivers run red lights.
"The cameras located at Route 1/Old Landing Road and Route 1/Munchy Branch Road have done what we had expected; they have changed driver behavior and thereby reduced crashes – and potentially saved lives," said Dawn Hopkins, intergovernmental policy advisor for DelDOT.
The Delaware Department of Transportation installed cameras in 2010 after using five years of data to determine the two intersections were candidates for the Electronic Red Light Safety Program, Hopkins said. In the five years from 2002 to 2007, there were four crashes a year at the Munchy Branch intersection and about two crashes a year at Old Landing Road.
At Old Landing Road, only one crash a year occurred from 2007 to 2010, but from 2010 to 2012, the average rose to more than one a year.
At Munchy Branch Road, after cameras were installed there has been an average of two accidents a year.
Hopkins said there is a normal ebb and flow of crashes throughout the state, with fewer accidents during periods of recession because people drive less. However, the overall trends indicate fewer crashes have resulted from running red lights when compared to the initial data.
Fewer tickets issued
It appears people are now aware of the cameras as the number of tickets issued to people for running red lights is declining.
Tickets issued at Old Landing Road went from a high of 2,200 in 2010 to 1,597 in 2011 and 1,368 in 2012. At Munchy Branch Road, the trend was similar: 1,112 in 2010, 700 in 2011 and 621 in 2012.
DelDOT does not keep revenue figures for tickets issued, Hopkins said. Each ticket is $112.50, however, she said, just because a ticket was issued it does not mean it was paid.
"Using the 'number of violations times the fee amount' calculation does not take into consideration unpaid or court contested payments," she said. "I am 99.9 percent sure the resulting figures would be inflated and inaccurate."
That said, the potential revenue is significant – nearly $1 million in tickets issued so far through 2012.
New equipment, camera operator
The company that installed the original camera equipment was bought by another company a few years ago, Hopkins said.
New equipment has been installed as needed. Typically, she said, cameras flash for when a violation occurs, night and day. Police monitor the photos each month, and if it appears a camera is not working properly, she said, it is fixed. Hopkins said the cameras are operating properly. It is only a fraction of a second difference – difficult to determine by the naked eye – between a violation and non-violation, she said.
"If the vehicle did not register as violating the law, camera flashes would not occur. We often receive reports of non-functioning cameras due to this reason," Hopkins said.